Media Review for December 9, 2015

UN Warns of Genocide Risk in Burundi
The United Nations warned Tuesday that violence in Burundi could degenerate into genocide, and stressed the urgent need for a political dialogue. The warning came on the eve of the first international day set aside by the UN General Assembly to commemorate the victims of genocide and work to prevent its recurrence. Adama Dieng, a special UN adviser for the prevention of genocide, told reporters he was worried that both the government and the opposition were manipulating ethnic tensions in Burundi, pitting Hutus and Tutsis against each other. “I am not saying that tomorrow there will be a genocide in Burundi but there is a serious risk that if we do not stop the violence this may end with a civil war and following such a civil war anything is possible,” he said. He recalled Burundi’s history of internal violence, including a civil war that raged from 1995 to 2003, and called for “sincere and inclusive dialogue.” AFP on Yahoo News

Missed Opportunities for Peace in Burundi
Burundi’s government spokesman Willy Nyamitwe has a smile on his face. He is sure of one thing. “Hutus and Tutsis are living together, they are not going to fight. There is no threat of civil war or genocide in our country.” It’s only a small group disturbing the peace with night time attacks, he says. But the United Nations is warning of genocide. The country has a similar ethnic makeup to its neighbor, Rwanda, dominated by Hutus and Tutsis. Between 2003 and 2006, tensions between the two ethnic groups fuelled a civil war in which more than 200,000 people died. Experts fear the current crisis could escalate into a new civil war. Deutsche Welle

No Safe Place to Run in Burundi’s Capital
Many families in Burundi’s capital have moved across town for fear of being caught in clashes between armed youth and security forces, as the political violence there enters its eighth month. Those who have fled, however, say life is no easier. Twenty-five-year-old Hirakoze Johari and her two children are one of just a few hundred families left in the Cibitoke neighborhood in central Bujumbura. “Life is bad here,” she said, “we are struggling, there is so much violence, so much gunfire.” She said people cannot go to work, and they remain in their homes if they have not fled. She said her situation did not allow her to escape. VOA

EU May Restrict Burundi Ties over Rights Concerns
The EU said it could restrict its ties with Burundi to humanitarian aid after talks on Tuesday failed to resolve its concerns over human rights in the restive central African country. A statement issued after lengthy talks in Brussels said the EU, the country’s top donor, took note of Burundi’s explanations but that these did not go far enough to remedy the problems. “The consultations are now closed and appropriate measures will be put up for decision,” the statement said. “In the meantime, provisional measures could be taken regarding current cooperation, limiting new activities to humanitarian actions directly benefiting the population,” it said. AFP on Yahoo News

Extremist Attacks Displace Thousands from Chad Islands
Attacks by Nigeria’s Islamic extremist group on islands of Lake Chad are displacing thousands forced to give up their livelihoods and flee the insecurity, said the Chad director of the United Nations food agency. In November, the program assisted more than 60,000 fleeing insecurity and it expects to assist 90,000 people in December, said World Food Program Chad director Mary-Ellen McGroarty. “The situation is worsening. The attacks are more frequent, and the impact on the community is severe,” she said. “Many have fled only with the clothes on their backs, leaving their farms and fishing behind.” McGroarty said that people are traumatized and feel they have little opportunity having to leave their homes. Parents worry about the safety of their children. AP

Niger to Transfer 500 Boko Haram Prisoners to Nigeria
Niger has agreed to transfer hundreds of prisoners from the militant Islamist group Boko Haram back to their home country of Nigeria to reduce pressure on its crammed prisons, judicial sources said on Tuesday. Boko Haram militants mostly operate in northeastern Nigeria but have also stepped up their insurgency within Niger’s southern region of Diffa in recent months, carrying out dozens of attacks. Niger has declared a state of emergency there in an effort to improve security and has made hundreds of arrests. “Nigeria sent a working group here (to Niger) last week and the two sides have established an initial list of 500 detainees who will soon be transferred to Nigeria,” said a magistrate working on the case who asked not to be named. Reuters

Boko Haram Is Wounded and Dangerous
Less than a year ago, the militant group Boko Haram controlled an area of northeastern Nigeria the size of Belgium. It was “a mortuary for the uncooperative and prison for the conquered,” as one unlucky resident described it to me at the time, and it threatened to engulf ever more of the country. The brutal Islamist insurgency had sapped the morale and discipline of the Nigerian army and seemed poised to carve out a caliphate that rivaled the one it had pledged loyalty to in Iraq and Syria. Fast-forward just 10 months and the idea of an Islamic caliphate in northern Nigeria seems a distant memory. Delusions of statehood caused Boko Haram’s leaders to overreach, inviting a powerful regional military response and bolstering the candidacy of former Nigerian military leader Muhammadu Buhari, who set about crushing the Islamist insurgency after winning the presidency in March. A regional military coalition led by Nigeria has recaptured much of the territory Boko Haram once controlled and driven its fighters into remote regions in Nigeria’s northeastern corner. But if Boko Haram has seen its territorial ambitions dashed in recent months, it is hardly on the verge of defeat. In a way, Boko Haram has come full circle, reverting back to the kind of asymmetrical warfare that was once its grisly hallmark.  The Guardian

Nigeria to Raise 2016 Spending Even as Key Oil Price Lowered
The Nigerian government proposed increasing spending next year without overstepping borrowing targets even as it budgets for a “conservative” benchmark oil price. Under a three-year economic plan approved by the cabinet, government expenditure will rise to 6 trillion naira ($30 billion), Budget and Planning Minister Udoma Udo Udoma told reporters on Monday in the capital, Abuja. In April, the Senate approved spending of 4.5 trillion naira for 2015 and lawmakers last week authorized an increase of 466 billion naira. While the budget next year will be “expansionist,” the assumed oil price will be just $38 a barrel because of “uncertainties” and the output target is set at 2.2 million barrels a day, said Udoma. The benchmark price in this year’s budget approved in April was $53 a barrel. The West African nation, Africa’s biggest economy, is contending with a slump in the price of oil, which is the source of 70 percent of government revenue. Bloomberg

Rwanda Sets Date for Referendum to Extend Presidential Term Limit
Rwandans will vote in a referendum on December 18 on whether to amend the constitution and allow President Paul Kagame to remain in office until as late as 2034, officials said on Tuesday, a plan that mirrors moves in several other African countries. Under the proposed amendment, Kagame, in power since 2000, would be able to run for office again after his second mandate ends in 2017, first for a seven-year term and then for two further stints of five years each, stretching to 2034. Kagame, 58, is the latest veteran ruler in Africa to attempt to extend his hold on power. Similar moves have already sparked violence and instability in Burundi, Burkina Faso and Congo Republic. So far there has been no political unrest in Rwanda. Reuters

Tunisia: Concerns over Human Rights Abuses Increase as Arrest Rate Rises
The Interior Ministry has reported that 17,046 individuals,were arrested on a variety of charges during November, including those linked to the Tunis terror attack on 24th November which killed twelve members of the Presidential Guard and injured many more. 516 were arrested for either the trafficking or consumption of drugs, 443 for assault, 557 for theft, 1,646 on charges of public drunkenness and the rest on various other charges. Irrespective of the charges against them, human rights groups have raised concerns over the treatment of suspects following their arrest, citing an alarming degree of torture, abuse and human rights violations in detentions and in prisons. The Tunisian Organization against Torture (OCTT) publishes a monthly report, of their investigations into the torture cases referred to them. It is currently investigating 46 cases reported over the last three months with 11 claims submitted in the past month alone. Tunisia Live

The Tunisia Quartet: How an Impossible alliance Saved the Country from Collapse
It is not often that the Nobel peace prize is given to an organisation that doesn’t exist. But stroll through the leafy boulevards of downtown Tunis and you will look in vain for the headquarters of the Tunisian national dialogue quartet, due to pick up the world’s supreme accolade in Oslo this week. There is no office with brass plaques on the wall, no number to call, no website. Even the quartet’s name was coined by other people, after the fact. That fact being the creation of an almost impossible alliance, which would go on to save Tunisian democracy. In the summer of 2013, Tunisia was in crisis. The optimism of the Arab Spring revolution three years before, which saw the overthrow of dictator Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali, had vanished. In its place were protests, strikes and terrorist attacks. The Guardian

Thousands Flee Somali Clashes
At least 20 people were killed, 120 wounded and over 90 000 forced to flee days of rival militia battles in central Somalia, although the situation has now calmed, the UN said on Tuesday. Fighting broke out in the town of Galkayo on November 22 between gunmen loyal to the Puntland and Galmudug districts, with reports of heavy gunfire as well as mortars or artillery. Clashes continued after a ceasefire agreement last week, but the situation has been quieter. Galkayo, which straddles the border between the two districts, has seen frequent fighting between rival political or clan groups, separate from the Islamist Shabaab insurgents who are fighting the internationally-backed central government in Mogadishu. News 24

Tensions Rise as Al-Shabaab foreign Fighters Consider Supporting Isis
The defections of two fighters – an American and a US resident – from Somalia’s Islamic extremist rebels highlight tensions within al-Shabaab over whether it should remain affiliated to al-Qaida or switch allegiance to the Islamic State group, according to an al-Shabaab commander. Foreign fighters are being alienated and feel trapped in Somalia over suspicions that they are plotting to switch allegiance to the Islamic State group fighting in Syria and Iraq, Abu Mohammed, a military commander with al-Shabaab told the Associated Press. The “ambitions” by some foreign fighters in al-Shabaab to join the Islamic State group had led to them to be isolated within the Somali group and even face death at the hands of their erstwhile comrades-in-arms. The Guardian

2 Americans Flee Somali Militant Group, But Will they Face Justice in US?
[…] The U.S. State Department said Monday it was in discussions with Somali authorities about Hassan, who has been indicted for offering material aid to a terrorist group, although the U.S. has no extradition treaty with Somalia. If transferred to the U.S., he may face charges relating to the Garland attack. He reportedly had more than 30 active Twitter accounts and whenever an account was taken down, another would pop up. On April 23, just over a week before the Garland event, Hassan purportedly tweeted praise of the January attack on the Paris offices of the satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which left 12 dead. “The brothers from the Charlie hebdo attack did their part. It’s time for brothers in the (hashtag) US to do their part,” the tweet said. On April 25, he is said to have tweeted to Simpson: “One individual is able to put a whole nation onto it’s knees.” According to the Counter Extremism Project, last year he tweeted, “If only every Muslims could kill 1 Jew, everything would change.” The other American, Malik John, said in an interview that he decided to leave al-Shabab two months ago, Reuters reported. LA Times

New Unrest in C.Africa after Ex-President Barred from Vote
Gunfire erupted on Tuesday in the Central African Republic’s capital Bangui, where protesters erected barricades after an announcement that ex-president Francois Bozize was barred from running for election. A French embassy text message sent to citizens said there were “barricades and gunfire” in several districts and advised French citizens “to avoid these areas”. Calm returned to the capital after nightfall, security sources said. “Gendarmes and police intervened with the support of Senegalese troops from (UN peacekeeping force) MINUSCA,” a MINUSCA source said. “They were able to raise the barricades and reestablish order.” AFP on Yahoo News

UN Warns of Rights Abuses in Democratic Republic of Congo Elections
A crackdown on political dissent in Democratic Republic of Congo, including summary executions and arbitrary detentions, is likely to undermine the credibility of upcoming elections, the United Nations said on Tuesday. The U.N. Joint Human Rights Office (UNJHRO) in Congo said in a report that it had documented 143 human rights violations and at least 649 people arbitrarily detained in connection with the electoral process during the first nine months of 2015. In a written response, Congo’s justice minister, Alexis Thambwe, dismissed the accusations as unsubstantiated and aimed at sabotaging the government’s human rights efforts. France 24

The Crackdown in Cabinda: the Hidden Politics of Angola’s Exclave
It was January 2010 when the region of Cabinda in Angola made its biggest splash on the world stage. The African Cup of Nations had promised to be business as usual, with only piecemeal international coverage, until the Togo national football team was attacked with machine guns as their bus travelled to the stadium in Cabinda. Two passengers were killed and several others injured. A splinter group of the guerrilla Front for the Liberation of the Enclave of Cabinda (FLEC) claimed responsibility, setting off a flurry of journalists around the world frantically googling ‘FLEC’ and ‘Cabinda’. But soon after the story had died down, the region disappeared from international headlines. African Arguments

South Sudan Fighting Spreads West
Gunmen in war-torn South Sudan fought heavy battles Tuesday in the capital of Western Equatoria state, fuelling fears the nearly two-year-long conflict is spreading to new parts of the country. Fighting was reported in Yambio, close to the border with Democratic Republic of Congo, a member of parliament for the region, Isaac Sumu, told AFP. “People are fleeing away to places where there is no fighting,” Sumu said, adding the clashes in the town broke out on Monday. There was no immediate response from the military, but army spokesperson Philip Aguer told the local Eye Radio station the clashes were “people shooting randomly” whom he dismissed as “drunk and criminals that are trying to provoke the situation.”  News 24

‘Waterboarding’, Beatings Drove South Sudan Children to Join War: UNICEF Envoy
Former child soldiers in South Sudan said they took up arms to defend themselves after being beaten and almost drowned by government soldiers, and they might return to the battlefield if their lives do not improve, a UNICEF ambassador said. Ishmael Beah, who was forced to fight in Sierra Leone’s civil war when he was 13 and later became a United Nations Children’s Fund goodwill ambassador, recently met hundreds of children who left South Sudan’s rebel Cobra Faction in restive Jonglei State earlier this year. The children said that “SPLA soldiers would beat them up severely,” he told the Thomson Reuters Foundation, referring to government forces. Reuters on Yahoo News

Tanzania: Magufuli Sacks Tanzania Port Bosses
The government yesterday kicked out almost the entire top brass at the Tanzania Ports Authority (TPA) in a move that saw director general Awadhi Massawe and the authority’s board chairman Prof Joseph Msambichaka removed. Permanent Secretary for Transportation Dr Shaban Mwinjaka under whose docket TPA belongs was also shown the door as President John Magufuli sustained the pressure on corruption and lack of accountability in the public sector. Hobbling operations at the Tanzania Railways Corporation (TRL) where Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa at a recent inspection established that TSh13 billion had been misused, were some of the reasons that also cost the PS his job. The Monitor on allAfrica

Tanzania President John Magufuli helps Clean Streets
Tanzania’s new President John Magufuli has joined hundreds of residents in the main city Dar es Salaam to take part in a public clean-up operation. Mr Magufuli swept and picked up rubbish from the street as part of the scheme, which he had ordered to replace independence day celebrations. The move is being seen as symbolic of the president’s promise to tackle corruption, our correspondent says. Thousands of people across Tanzania are reported to have joined the clean-up. Last month, Mr Magufuli cancelled traditional independence day celebrations, which usually include a military parade and concert, saying it would be “shameful” to spend huge sums of money while the country was facing a serious cholera outbreak.  BBC

AQIM Video Claims Killing of Three ‘Spies’ for France, Mauritania
Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb has released a video purporting to show the execution of three men, a Mauritanian and two Malians, accused of spying for Mauritania and France. The video was seen by AFP on Tuesday, less than two weeks after a claim of two other AQIM executions for similar reasons. Lasting nearly 23 minutes and titled “The Traitors”, the video was posted on YouTube on Sunday and removed from the site on Tuesday. It shows the summary execution of three men before onlookers. There is no indication of when or where the video was shot. The video named the Mauritanian as Mohamed Ould Habib, the brother of Maarouf Ould Haiba, an Al-Qaeda member who was sentenced to death for killing four French tourists in 2007 in southern Mauritania. AFP on Yahoo News

Ivory Coast Summons French Envoy over Move to Question Speaker
Ivory Coast summoned the French ambassador Tuesday in a diplomatic row over moves by a Paris judge to interrogate the country’s parliamentary speaker, former rebel chief Guillaume Soro. Foreign Minister Charles Koffi Diby told AFP that he was voicing “a strong protest” against a warrant to question Soro in connection with a complaint filed by Michel Gbagbo, son of former Ivorian president Laurent Gbagbo who is currently awaiting trial in The Hague. “The parliament speaker is on an official mission” on behalf of the president and has “absolute immunity”, said Koffi Diby, calling for the summons to be annulled. Soro travelled to Paris to attend the COP21 UN climate conference. It was impossible to immediately confirm whether he was still in France. Several hours later, Soro’s lawyers issued a statement saying the summons was not applicable because of his diplomatic immunity. AFP on Yahoo News

US Presidential Candidate Ben Carson to Visit Kenya
A Republican Party candidate for the US presidency said on Monday he plans to visit Kenya later this month. Dr Ben Carson, a retired neurosurgeon, cited his East African ancestry as a key reason for the trip. “My ancestors are from the Kenya-Tanzania region, the Turkana tribe. I’ve had all of that traced back,” Dr Carson told a US radio talk-show host. The 64-year-old candidate has seen his once strong support slip in recent polls of Republican voters from 22 per cent in October to 14 per cent in a survey released last week. The rating places Dr Carson third among the 13 politicians seeking the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. He trails businessman Donald Trump, who registered 36 per cent in the same poll, and Senator Ted Cruz, whose support stood at 16 per cent. Dr Carson acknowledged on Monday that his lack of international policy experience may account for his drop in the voter survey.  The East African

Muslims and Islam: Key Findings in the U.S. and Around the World
Muslims are the fastest-growing religious group in the world. The growth and regional migration of Muslims, combined with the ongoing impact of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and other extremist groups that commit acts of violence in the name of Islam, have brought Muslims and the Islamic faith to the forefront of the political debate in many countries. Yet many facts about Muslims are not well known in some of these places, and most Americans – who live in a country with a relatively small Muslim population – say they know little or nothing about Islam. […] Favorable views of ISIS are somewhat higher in Nigeria (14%) than most other nations. Among Nigerian Muslims, 20% say they see ISIS favorably (compared with 7% of Nigerian Christians). The Nigerian militant group Boko Haram, which has been conducting a terrorist campaign in the country for years, has sworn allegiance to ISIS.  Pew Research Center



Photo: Adam Jones